Pioneering New House Building Model To Be Considered
30th July 2010
Highland Councillors are being asked to consider investigating the feasibility of a pioneering new model of providing much-needed affordable homes in the Highlands.
It could see a new build programme of 650 houses over a five year period.
The idea is for the Council to work with a private sector partner to release the equity currently tied up in its Council houses. As houses become vacant they would transfer to the private sector partner in return for a capital payment. The capital would be used to build new houses for let as Council tenancies.
A key point to note is that the Council would continue to allocate, manage and maintain the stock, based on agreed fees per unit to be paid to the council by the partner.
The transferred houses would be relet to applicants on the Highland Housing Register at rent levels pitched between the average council rent and private rents, currently estimated at £75 per week (charged over 52 weeks). The average council rent for the current financial year is £59.76 (over 52 weeks).
Properties would revert to Council ownership at nil cost after 25 years.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "This is an interesting proposition that has come forward from our Housing and Property management team, which allows the Council to release equity on the asset value of council housing becoming vacant to relet to generate funds for new council house building. We estimate this could number 650 over a five year period, The number could be significantly increased if the Scottish Government continues to provide subsidy for Council house building.
"The Housing and Social Work Committee will be asked to agree to undertake and fund a full feasibility assessment on the equity release model as a means to deliver additional affordable housing in the Highlands. We would work closely with the Scottish Government in developing the model.
"We would then come back to the Committee with a detailed business case."
She stressed that addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the Highlands is one of the Council's key priorities.
She added: "Strengthening the Highlands" has a target of 2,000 new affordable homes by 2011. We are on target to meet this commitment, but have identified ongoing high levels of demand for additional housing for rent beyond 2011. Successive Local Housing Strategies have identified the need for additional housing supply as the main strategic issue in relation to housing."
High Life Highland has unveiled expanded and improved facilities at Inverness Botanic Gardens. The new facility was officially declared open at a garland cutting ceremony by Provost of the City of Inverness, Councillor Alex Graham on Monday.
With assistance of a Grant from Historic Scotland, the Mackintosh Brothers have transformed their Dingwall newsagent's premises back to its former Victorian glory and the recent work is attracting very favourable comments from the local community. No 4 High Street, Dingwall is one of a series of Victorian shop premises at the West end of the High Street.
There was a good turn out to the recent public exhibition outlining the Phase 4 proposals for flood protection measures in Smithton and Culloden and the Council is reminding members of the public that there is still time for them to pass on their comments. During the drop-in event, which was held on 10 March in Smithton Free Church, The Highland Council and the scheme designer, JBA, presented works that have been undertaken in phase 1 to 3, to tackle issues and proposals for phase 4 were presented.
The Highland Council's Trading Standards team are warning local businesses about a scam that is currently doing the rounds and is targeting small businesses within the Highland area. A number of complaints have been received from local businesses receiving a letter headed "UK - DATA CONTROL - Missing information about your VAT Registration Number" with â€˜Scotland Business' prominently stated at the top of the first page.
â€˜One-size does not fit all' - was the message received at the last meeting of The Highland Council (on 12 March) as members agreed to a Review of Area Committees over the next two years. Reporting to The Highland Council, Carron McDiarmid, Head of Policy and Reform thanked Area and Group Leaders who helped shaped a report on the Area Committee Review.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland has begun its consultation with councils on proposed wards for each council area as part of the 5th Reviews of Electoral Arrangements. Its proposals contain recommendations for councillor numbers in each of Scotland's 32 council areas and the number and boundaries of wards for the election of those councillors.
The regeneration of Wick will be given another boost if the planning committee on 24th March 2015 as expected approve the building of a new Archive Centre for Nuclear records in the UK. The Highland council archive centre currently based at Wick library will also relocate to the new building where it will occupy a small part of it.
The Highland Council understands that all four objectors to the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the West Link project have now informed the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) that they have withdrawn, which is a significant milestone towards confirmation of the CPO. The Council has been in discussions with all of the landowners and, in particular, those who had objected to the Compulsory Purchase Order for the West Link.
Highland Council Trading Standards are aware that Scam postcards are being delivered to residents' homes claiming that a parcel containing "jewellery" or valuables up to Â£50 is waiting for the homeowner. The message on the postcard states: "The office is attempting to reach you.
Highland Council Trading Standards are to hold two drop-in sessions aimed at traders who conduct works on domestic properties. The sessions will take place on Friday 27th March from 2pm till 4pm and again on Wednesday 1st April from 9am till 11am.
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